Hero MotoCorp EBR in World Superbike
During the 2012 AMA SuperBike Championship, we caught up with Erik Buell at New Jersey Motorsports Park. As we discussed his team’s progress with 2012 riders Geoff May and Danny Eslick, Buell was asked about the possibility of Erik Buell Racing (EBR) competing in World Superbike.
Buell said the Wisconsin-based EBR wasn’t quite there yet, but World SBK was a major goal. And following much work, this goal will be achieved in 2014.
EBR made the announcement after unveiling its 1190 RX during the American International Motorcycle Expo (AIMExpo) in Orlando this past week. This is exciting news for stateside World SBK fans, considering EBR will be the first American brand to compete in the series since its debut in 1988.
But one thing EBR didn’t initially reveal was the rider. At AIMExpo, we asked multiple times, but the EBR staff remained hush. That was until Sunday when the team confirmed that the Geoff May will pilot the EBR during the 2014 World Superbike season.
As for the bike, May will compete on the new EBR 1190 RX, not the 1190 RS that was used in AMA Superbike. For the AMA series, EBR only needed to produce 125 1190 RS production superbikes for homologation to compete. But for World SBK, the rules are different. Only 125 production motorcycle must be manufactured prior to homologation inspection, but 15 days before the last race of the 2014 World SBK series, 1000 motorcycles must be produced.
Because EBR plans on building 1,000 1190 RX superbikes during its first production run set for December, meeting World SBK homologation requirements will not be an issue.
EBR will race with the same main sponsor as its AMA Superbike team, Hero MotoCorp – the world’s largest motorcycle manufacturer based out of India. On a side note, in 2014 EBR dealers will also offer Hero MotoCorp products in the US. EBR says it will offer three Hero motorcycles and one scooter, though the models have yet to be decided.
As for May, his been with Buell since the beginning of its AMA Pro Racing career. The 33-year old of Atlanta, Georgia, joined AMA Pro Racing in 2004 as a privateer, and earned a ride with M4 EMGO Suzuki for the 2005 season. He rode Suzuki GSX-R machinery until campaigning a Buell 1125R in 2010 AMA SuperBike.
He continued with Buell machinery, and in 2012, the first full year of the EBR team, May finished fifth overall, having earned nine top-five finishes, including a podium at Infineon. As for EBR, it finished third in the manufacturer’s standings. For the 2013 AMA SuperBike Championship, May finished ninth overall.
May’s biggest challenge will be learning the European circuits, a feat other Americans like Ben Spies accomplished through video games. And with the World Superbike testing ban effective Dec. 1 through Jan. 15, May won’t have much time for testing.
As of this writing, two things are yet to be determined – May’s teammate and the location of the EBR team, which will likely be Europe. These updates should arrive soon…